Parking meter controversy boils –King defends Mexico trip, Bulkan treads lightly

Georgetown Mayor, Patricia Chase-Green, and Town Clerk Royston King check out the merchandise

TOWN Clerk Royston King feels people are “taking advantage of the absence of the Mayor to advance negative, divisive and completely untrue narratives.”Communities Minister, Ronald Bulkan, on the other hand, feels it’s “unfair” for councillors to endorse an arrangement they’re not fully au fait with.

 Georgetown Mayor Patricia Chase-Green and City Councillor Oscar Clarke look on at a presentation by officials in Mexico City, Mexico
Georgetown Mayor Patricia Chase-Green and City Councillor Oscar Clarke look on at a presentation by officials in Mexico City, Mexico

The common denominator here is the now-controversial parking meter arrangement, which was plugged by city officials as a method for creating vehicular mobility around the city.

In an effort to advance the project, the Town Clerk is currently in Mexico with Mayor Chase-Green and Councillors Junior Garrett and Oscar Clarke ostensibly to run it by officials there.

Other councillors were only made aware of this development at last Monday’s statutory council meeting, where there was not only outrage, but many questions for Deputy Mayor, Sherod Duncan.

In his defence, Duncan, who is deputising for Chase-Green in her absence, told the Council that he did have some reservations about the trip, and had raised them with both the Mayor and Town Clerk by way of electronic mail.

He told the Guyana Chronicle yesterday that he could not confirm the nature of the Mayor’s visit to Mexico, but that he is awaiting the other side of the story when the Mayor and Town Clerk respond to the e-mail he’d sent them.

Duncan said he himself only learnt about the Mexico trip when the Mayor called him via telephone last Saturday to say that she will be out of the country. He said he would subsequently receive another call from her, ‘hinting’ that she will be accompanied by the Town Clerk.
He said, too, that had it not been for the Deputy Town Clerk, he would not have known that Councillors Garrett and Clarke were also part of the delegation.

While in Mexico, the M&CC delegation expects to be presented with the final rollout schedule of the new parking meter project which, according to a release issued by the Town Clerk, “is actually more of a mobility solution for the city of Georgetown.”

Noting that other projects are being presented to the delegation by the Mexican officials, King said in his missive sent all the way from Mexico:
“While it is unfortunate that certain individuals have taken advantage of the absence of the Mayor to advance negative, divisive and completely untrue narratives, the Mayor and the travelling delegation plan to hold a press conference upon their return.”

King said everything will be made clear at the press conference, particularly the nature of the trip, which “engenders the City leadership’s duty of protecting and improving the lives and opportunities available to its constituents.”

King commended the “extensive due diligence” of the project, even as councillors spoke at the recent statutory meeting on the need for broader consultation on the matter.

One such councillor was Roopnarine Persaud, who said, “It is a monopoly that we cannot afford here. It is not fair; I will not be a part of it, to saddle my constituency with this type of bill. We cannot riddle them with bills and bills and bills.”

Meanwhile, Minister Bulkan, who has responsibility for the nation’s local government system in the absence of a Local Government Commission, said yesterday that while he endorses the traffic-management project, there is still need for greater public education, especially since councillors still need to be fully informed on how they will reap the benefits of the arrangement.

Quite recently, it was revealed that the company selected to carry out the project, which will see parking meters being placed around the city, had listed a Manhattan address which was debunked by persons from another media house who visited the Manhattan address and found that the company, National Parking Systems (NPS), was not registered at the location which they named.

NPS is collaborating with another company, Smart City Solutions, on the project.

When asked about the company now referred to as a “ghost company” that was awarded the city’s contract, Minster Bulkan said he could not validate the claim since he has not yet met with Georgetown city officials.

He did say, however, that his Ministry has received reports of an allegation surrounding the possible “ghost company”, and that if what people are saying is true, then the municipality must be able to address this.

In his release, the Town Clerk said, “The Mayor and City leadership continue with their hands-on approach in their overseeing of a project which began with extensive due diligence on a parking solution, and continues now with their involvement in consideration of other complimentary projects that can be offered by the Smart City Solutions consortium.”